1620 The Pilgrims establish Plymouth Plantation, south of present day Boston, becoming the first permanent Christian community in the region.
1630 Led by Governor John Winthrop, Boston is established by the PuritansThe Puritans were Christians who, in the sixteenth century, called for the purification of the Church of England from what they considered the vestiges of Roman Catholic hierarchy and practice. Like other Reformers, they stressed the authority of the Bibl.... Prior to their arrival, Winthrop preaches a sermon entitled “A Model of Christian Charity,” urging the new colonists to establish an ideal Christian community based on PuritanThe Puritans were Christians who, in the sixteenth century, called for the purification of the Church of England from what they considered the vestiges of Roman Catholic hierarchy and practice. Like other Reformers, they stressed the authority of the Bibl... values.
1633 Rev. John Cotton, a renowned Puritan clergyman, arrives from England to become the ministerMinister is a general term for a member of the clergy in the Christian church. The term has also come to use in other religious traditions to designate a member of the clergy (as in the Jodo Shinshu tradition and the Nation of Islam). of First ChurchThe term church has come to wide use to refer to the organized and gathered religious community. In the Christian tradition, church refers to the organic, interdependent “body” of Christ’s followers, the community of Christians. Secondarily, church ... in Boston.
1637 Anne Hutchinson, a learned Puritan woman, leads BibleThe Greek term biblia means the “books.” Bible is used in both the Jewish and Christian traditions to refer to the book which gathers together their sacred writings. The Hebrew Bible includes the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings—a collection re... study and theological discussions in her home. After expressing disagreement with leading clergyClergy are the body of ordained men (and in some cases women) who are authorized to perform the priestly, pastoral, or rabbinical duties of the community—as distinct from the laity whom they serve., she is tried for heresy, found guilty, and banished from the Colony.
1651 Rev. John Eliot establishes Natick as a “praying town,” an enclave for Native AmericansEach of the many Native American nations has its own distinctive life-ways, although there are some widely-shared characteristics. most Native life-ways are primarily transmitted through oral traditions; they are oriented toward living in relation to a sp... who have converted to ChristianityChristianity is the religious tradition of Christians: those who confesses faith in Jesus Christ, follow the path Christ taught, and gather together in the community of the church..
1660 MaryMary was the mother of Jesus and, as such, has a special place in the affection and devotion of Christians. The Gospels of Luke and Matthew speak of her as a Virgin who conceived Jesus by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Devotion to the Virgin Mary, also cal... Dyer, a member of the Society of FriendsThe Quaker movement, properly known as the Society of Friends, had its beginnings in 17th century England with George Fox (1624-91), whose form of worship was liturgically sparse, relying on silence and the inspiring movement of the Inner Light, the spiri..., is arrested and hanged on Boston Common for repeatedly defying a law banning QuakersThe Quaker movement, properly known as the Society of Friends, had its beginnings in 17th century England with George Fox (1624-91), whose form of worship was liturgically sparse, relying on silence and the inspiring movement of the Inner Light, the spiri... from the Colony. She is one of four executed Quakers who became known as the Boston martyrs.
1663 Rev. John Eliot publishes the Bible in the Algonquin language; this is the first Bible printed in America.
1688 Rev. Increase Mather travels to England on a diplomatic mission to advocate for a new charter for the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
1692 Accusations of witchcraft in Salem result in the trial and execution of nineteen people.
1700 As colonial tensions between the French and English increase, magistrates in the Massachusetts Bay Colony ban all Catholic priestsA priest is the leader of a religious community or congregation, specially trained and often ordained to service, who leads members of the community in the rituals and practice of shared and individual life. Many traditions have forms of priesthood.In the....
1740 Rev. George Whitefield preaches on Boston Common during the “Great Awakening,” helping to spark a series of revivals that spread throughout the Northeast.
1775 Paul Revere hangs signals in the steeple of the Old North Church to warn colonists of British troops advancing on Lexington and Concord.
1779 The new Massachusetts Constitution becomes law; provisions in the Constitution protect the right of all Christians to worship as they chose.
1785 King’s ChapelA chapel is a place of worship, smaller than the sanctuary of a church or synagogue, or in an institutional setting such as a college or hospital., formerly an AnglicanThe Church of England is a national church that broke with the Roman Catholic Church in the English Reformation of the 16th century; the Worldwide Anglican communion, led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, consists of more than thirty-eight autonomous provi... church, revises its prayerPrayer is the vocal or silent address to the Divine. It may consist of fixed words, spontaneous words, or rest in silence with no words at all. Some forms of prayer are accompanied with specific postures or gestures, while others are not. book, and becomes the first Unitariana belief in one God that rejects the three persons of the Trinity that has much in common with the belief in the early Christian church about the superiority of God over Jesus and the Anti-Trinitarian writing that emerged during the Protestant Reformation... Church in the United States.
1788 The first Roman Catholic ChurchThe Roman Catholic Church, often referred to as the Catholic Church, is the largest of the major streams of Christianity. It claims the authority of Christian tradition dating to the time of the apostles. Its representative and interpreter is the Pope, th... in Boston, Holy CrossThe cross is the central symbol of the Christian faith, pointing to the significance for the church of the whole Christ event: the life and teachings, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Catholic Church, is established on School Street. The first public MassMass is a term used in the Roman Catholic Church for the ritual that culminates in the celebration of the Eucharist, the central rite of sharing the consecrated bread and wine in the church community. is led by a French naval chaplainA chaplain is a member of the clergy who serves in a prison, a hospital, a college, or some other institution outside the context of the normal congregational life of a religious community., L’Abbé Claude de la Poterie.
1790 First MethodistThe Methodist church is a Protestant communion of churches which began in England with John Wesley (1703-91) and has become a worldwide movement. In the U.S., the United Methodist Church—one of the largest Protestant denominations—is known for its str... Society of Lynn is established; it is the first Methodist Society in Boston.
1805 Henry Ware, a Unitarian, is appointed Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard, sparking a controversy within the CongregationalThe congregational form of Protestant Christianity has traditionally affirmed the autonomy and authority of the local congregation in calling and ordaining its ministers and organizing its affairs. In the 17th century, the English Puritans introduced cong... ChurchesThe term church has come to wide use to refer to the organized and gathered religious community. In the Christian tradition, church refers to the organic, interdependent “body” of Christ’s followers, the community of Christians. Secondarily, church ... over Unitarian beliefs.
The First African BaptistThe Baptist tradition includes a variety of Christian churches which trace their beginnings to the Anabaptist reform movement that rejected infant baptism insisting on the importance of baptizing only those who are able to profess the faith as believers. Church is established, the first independent black church in Boston. Rev. Thomas Paul, hired the following year, becomes the first African-American minister in Boston.
1808 Father Jean-Louis de Cheverus is made BishopA bishop is an ordained minister who supervises life in a diocese, synod, or other broad region and possesses, among other things, the authority to ordain clergy to the ministry of the church. The Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, and Protest... of Boston, as the number of Catholics in Boston increases.
1812 Five Andover Seminary graduates are ordainedOrdination means consecration to a priestly or monastic life. The term is used in the Buddhist tradition for the rites of becoming a monk (bhikkhu) or nun (bhikkhuni); in the Jewish tradition for the rites of becoming a rabbi; and in the Christian traditi... as missionaries at Tabernacle Congregational Church in Salem, becoming the first American overseas missionaries.
1825 Newton Theological Institute is formed, the oldest Baptist Seminary in the country.
1833 Massachusetts disestablishes the Congregational Church as the official church in the Commonwealth, becoming the last state to end the practice of having a state-sponsored church.
1834 The New England Anti-Slavery Society is launched by William Lloyd Garrison at the African Meeting House.
The Ursuline ConventA convent is a religious association and residential home of a religious order, particularly an order of women or nuns; the term is commonly used in both the Christian and Buddhist traditions. in Charlestown is burned by a ProtestantProtestant is a term used for the range of reform movements that broke with the Roman Catholic Church during the period called the Reformation. There are many branches of Protestantism, including the Lutherans, Anabaptists, Anglicans, Methodists, Baptists... mob, spurred on by anti-Catholic rhetoric in Protestant churches.
1847 Famine ravages Ireland after several years of failed potato crops caused by blight. Boston sends the Jamestown laden with food to Dublin to aid the Irish. 37,000 Irish immigrants arrive in Boston. Significant Irish immigration continues through the following decades.
1863 Boston College is established by the Society of JesusJesus is the historical figure considered by Christians to be the Christ, the Messiah, whose life and teachings, death and resurrection give clear evidence of God’s love for humankind. Jesus was born shortly before the death of Herod the Great (d. 4 BCE..., and is the first Catholic college in Boston.
1866 John Williams becomes Bishop of the DioceseA diocese is an administrative unit of the Christian Church, presided over by a bishop. of Boston, now the second largest Roman Catholic Diocese in United States. Bishop Williams undertakes the construction of many new churches to meet the needs of the growing Catholic community.
1868 Boston University is chartered by MethodistsThe Methodist church is a Protestant communion of churches which began in England with John Wesley (1703-91) and has become a worldwide movement. In the U.S., the United Methodist Church—one of the largest Protestant denominations—is known for its str...; unlike other institutions of the day, BU is open to all races and both sexes.
1869 Phillip Brooks becomes rector of TrinityThe Trinity is the Christian doctrine of the three natures of the One God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The language of the Trinity bespeaks the complexity of God, who can be spoken of as the transcendent creator, the one who accompanies humanity as the ... Church in Boston; during his tenure, he becomes a renowned preacher and a leading figure in the city.
1870 Boston’s first Seventh Day Adventist church, The Boston TempleA temple is a house of worship, a sacred space housing the deity or central symbol of the tradition. The Temple in Jerusalem was the holy place of the Jewish people until its destruction by the Romans in 70 CE; now the term “temple” is used by th. Ref..., is established after the community holds baptismsBaptism is the Christian sacrament of initiation in which new birth into the Christian community is conferred by sprinkling of or immersion in water. in the Charles River.
1873 The Italian community grows in East Boston and the North End. St. Leonard’s of Port Maurice, in the North End, is the first church in Boston built by Italian immigrants.
1875 As Boston’s Roman Catholic population continues to grow, PopeThe Pope, the Bishop of the Church of Rome, is the leader of the Roman Catholic Church worldwide, invested with both moral and ecclesiastical authority by the Church. In 1870, the pronouncements of the Pope on issues of faith were proclaimed to be infalli... Pius IX raises Boston to the level of Archdiocese; John Williams becomes the first ArchbishopAn archbishop is a bishop with authority over a particularly large or important diocese. of Boston.
The new Cathedral of the Holy Cross is finished in Boston’s South End and is consecrated. Stones from the Ursuline ConventA nun is a woman who renounces worldly life and is ordinarily a member of a monastic order or community, thereby undertaking a special commitment to study, service, asceticism, prayer, or disciplined spiritual practice. In the Buddhist tradition, fully or... are included in new building.
Mary Baker Eddy publishes Science & Health with Key to the Scriptures.
1879 Mary Baker Eddy founds the Church of Christ, Scientist, and oversees construction of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, on Massachusetts Avenue in Boston. The new denomination grows quickly.
1888 The PentecostalPentecostalism is a term used to describe a twentieth-century Christian movement that emphasizes Spirit-filled worship, including glossolalia or “speaking in tongues,” as is said to have happened on the first day of Pentecost nearly 2000 years ago in ... Church in Lynn is built, marking the beginnings of the Pentecostal movement in Boston.
1891 The Armenian Church of Our Savior, the first Armenian OrthodoxIn general, orthodox means having a “correct opinion or outlook” and is a term used by people in many religions who claim authority for traditional views and forms of their religion. Church in the United States, is consecrated in Worchester.
1894 The EpiscopalEpiscopal refers to any church in which authority is vested in a bishop (Greek episkopos). More particularly it refers to the Episcopal Church in America, which developed from the Church of England after the American Revolution. Diocese of Massachusetts ordainsOrdination means consecration to a priestly or monastic life. The term is used in the Buddhist tradition for the rites of becoming a monk (bhikkhu) or nun (bhikkhuni); in the Jewish tradition for the rites of becoming a rabbi; and in the Christian traditi... Oscar Lieber Mitchell, an African-American, the first black priestA priest is the leader of a religious community or congregation, specially trained and often ordained to service, who leads members of the community in the rituals and practice of shared and individual life. Many traditions have forms of priesthood.In the... in the Episcopal Church in Boston.
1899 The Greek community grows in Boston and begins holding regular Greek Orthodox worship services in a rented hall in Boston.
1902 The member denominations of what later became the Massachusetts Council of Churches organize, becoming pioneers in the twentieth century ecumenical movement.
1908 Theophan Stylian Noli celebrates the Divine LiturgyThe Divine Liturgy is the Eucharist, the communal sharing of sanctified bread and wine, as it is practiced in the Eastern Orthodox churches. in the Albanian language for the first time ever, in St. George’s Eastern OrthodoxThe Orthodox or Eastern Orthodox churches are a family of fourteen or fifteen churches that developed from the Church of the Byzantine Empire, which formally separated from the Church of Rome in the 11th century. Today they include the ancient patriarchat... Church in the South End.
1910 The Fisherman’s Feast of the Madonna Del Soccorso is celebrated for the first time by Sicilian immigrants; today it is the oldest of Boson’s many Italian festivals.
1923 Father Joakim Alexopoulos becomes the first Bishop of the Greek Orthodox Church in Boston.
1933 The Massachusetts Council of Churches is established in a merger of the Massachusetts Federation of Churches & the Council of Religious Education.
1938 Emmanuel GospelGospel means “Good News” and refers to the central message of the Christian tradition: the good news of Christ’s life and message of redemption. Gospel refers more specifically to the four books that tell the story of the Christ event and became par... Center is established to serve Boston’s urban churches.
1946 Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, the only seminary of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in the Americas, moves to Brookline from Connecticut.
1950 Rev. Billy Graham preaches in Boston, sparking a revival among the churches and increased interest in evangelicalThe Greek word euangelion means “good news” and an evangelist is one who proclaims and shares the good news of Christ. Evangelism is the preaching and witnessing to that good news. Evangelicals are Christians who emphasize the personal experience of G... Christianity.
1953 Howard Thurman becomes Dean of Marsh Chapel at Boston University; he is the first African-American to serve as the Dean of the Chapel at a predominantly white institution.
1958 Archbishop Richard J. Cushing is made CardinalA cardinal is a high-ranking office in the Roman Catholic Church, conferred by the Pope and involving both ecclesiastical and administrative duties on behalf of the church. The College of Cardinals is charged with the responsibility of electing a new pope... by Pope John XXIIIPope John XXIII (1881-1963) was made cardinal and then patriarch of Venice in 1953. At age 77 he was elected to become Pope after the death of Pius XII in 1958. In 1959, the new Pope announced the convening of the Second Vatican Council to bring the relig...; he is the first Cardinal from Boston.
1961 The Boston Chinese Evangelical Church is founded; today it is the largest Chinese church in Boston.
1963 Area clergy and seminarians participate in the Civil Rights March on Washington.
1965 Cardinal Richard Cushing attends VaticanThe Vatican is the residence and administrative headquarters of the Pope. Located in the area around St. Peter’s basilica in Rome, it is the official headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church. Vatican City is the name of the independent state headed by ... II and helps craft key documents, including Nostra AetateNostra Aetate,”In our time,” are the first words (and thus the title words) of an important document produced by the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) addressing with new openness the relation of the Roman Catholic Church to non-Christian religions..
Several Spanish-speaking churches emerge to minister to the growing Hispanic community in Boston, including Iglesia de Dios, M.B.
1968 The Boston Theological Institute is established to increase collaboration among the area’s many seminaries and theological schools.
Mary Daly, a faculty member at Boston College, publishes The Church and the Second Sex, a landmark feminist text critiquing the oppression of women in the church.
1969 The First Haitian Baptist Church of Boston is founded to minister to the emerging Haitian community; the community has continued to grow, and today, there are more than 500 independent Haitian churches in Boston.
1971 Mary Daly preaches at Memorial Chapel at Harvard and stages “Exodus” (from the church) for women.
1972 St. Mary’s Indian Orthodox Church of Boston is founded, becoming the second Indian Orthodox parishA parish is the geographical neighborhood or area served by a church or pastor. in the United States.
1979 Pope John Paul II visits Boston, conducts Mass on Boston Common.
1989 Barbara C. Harris is consecrated as Bishop in the Diocese of Massachusetts of the Episcopal Church, becoming the first female bishop in the Anglican CommunionCommunion or holy communion—also called the Eucharist, or the Lord’s supper—is the central rite of the Christian community in which the faithful partake as a community of the sanctified bread and wine. By extension, communion is often used to refer ....
1992 After a shooting occurs at a funeral at Morning Star Baptist Church, prominent black clergy found the Ten Point Coalition to work on reducing violence among youth in Boston.
1996 Jubilee Christian Fellowship is founded in Mattapan; today it is the largest church in Boston, with a membership of over 5,000.
2000 Emmanuel Gospel Center publishes their Millennium edition of the Boston Church Directory, listing over 500 congregations in Boston.
2002 Cardinal Law resigns as Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Boston in the wake of a scandal over sexual misconduct by priests in the Archdiocese.
2009 Massachusetts Bible Society celebrates its bicentenary with re-enactment of the original charter.